SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 41: In Which People, But No Cats, Are In The Strand Again.

By Liz McLeod

Still Your House Manager


“That was really somethin,’” I declared as I threw my coat over the stair railing and advanced toward the kitchen. Miss Carol T. Cat met me at the refrigerator with an expectant gaze.  “You are twenty-four minutes late,” she observed, with just the slightest edge to her voice. I know that tone, but filled with endorphins from the day just completed, I ignored it.

“I was surrounded by food today,” I continued to Miss Carol, as I pulled a cold slice of boiled ham from the refrigerator for me and a half-can of Friskies Chicken Filets In Gravy for Herself. She eyed the ham covetously, but I gave no ground. Miss Carol was nonplussed.

“You spent the day surrounded by food?” she inquired, her head tilted, the better to follow the cold slice of boiled ham as it followed a neat path toward my mouth. “Why was I not invited to partake in such a repast? It may interest to you to know that I have spent the afternoon by the window, pondering the unjust fate that leaves such a fine felid as myself locked away from the squirrels and birds that would bring fulfillment to my life, and thus to learn that you have spent your day frisking and capering about among articles of food is, to say the least, a grave insult. Explain yourself.”

“It was nothin’ like that,” I said, between chews of ham. “You remember that AIO Food Pantry drive we had down at the Strand that we talked about before, that you were all gung-ho about? Well, it came off better than we could’ve ever expected. People came out in force, an’ they filled the Strand with food not once, not twice, but THRICE. That’s three times, awright? Izzat somethin’ or what? All those people comin’ together to put the Strand to good use, an’ I gotta tell ya, it was the best feeling I’ve had in a very long time. Seeing PEOPLE back in the Strand again, having an EVENT again at the Strand was somethin’ I’ve been waitin’ for for months now, and it felt, I have to say, really really good.”

Miss Carol gazed upon the vanishing remnant of the ham slice, reflecting on my statement. “I have often been sorely critical of hew-mons,” she began, “ particularly given the events of the past four years. You have seemed to me to be a species uniquely unsuited to a self-governing society. Other felids, I know, share my view. But I have been pleased and impressed by your resilience during the recent times of crisis, and the news that the community responded with such zeal to your charity drive is both heartening and encouraging that you may, at long last, be ready to proceed forward toward a more just social order. We, of course – that is to say, we of the felids – stand ready to offer our guidance in this direction at all times.  And that said,  I observe with some consternation that you have returned from your day empty handed.”

“Uh yeah,” I said. “You got plenty of food right here.”

“It’s the thought,” she snapped back, “that counts. And this brings me to another matter. Are you aware that in the ten years that I have shared my home with you…”

“Um, who’s name izzat on th’ mortgage again?”

“A mere legal technicality,” she sniffed, “arranged for tax purposes.  As I was saying, are you aware that in the ten years that I have shared my home with you, I have never once stepped foot across the threshold of the Strand?”

“Cats aren’t allowed at the Strand,” I shrugged. “That’s just the way it goes.”

“Nonsense,” she snapped back. “I am aware that DOGS, foul canine beasts, have been permitted access to your facility. To bar CATS from the premises is entirely inappropriate.”

“Those are service dogs,” I replied. “They come there to do work, helping their humans. What work did you ever do?”

“My work takes place in realms beyond your comprehension. Scarcely could you even begin to comprehend the planes upon which my work is undertaken. But it would please me on some occasion to be admitted to the Strand for, let us say, a private viewing of some feline-themed motion picture. ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’ perhaps.”

“Ridiculous fat barrel cat.”

“You may, of course, forego the popcorn. I find grain products unpalatable. Have you considered offering herring filets to your audience?”

“I’ll get right on it,” I sighed.

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